THE sterling work being done by the City in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cupâ„¢ has been hailed by the world football governing body.

With only 112 days to go until the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and 469 days until the World Cup, the City was constantly receiving favourable feedback from FIFA, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee South Africa (OC) and the national government on the City’s state of readiness for the two football tournaments, said Executive Mayor Amos Masondo.

He was delivering his State of the City address at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Thursday, 26 February.

Football tournaments
To thunderous applause from councillors and invited guests, Masondo said the City was well on its way to hosting a memorable World Cup in 2010 and outlined some key and visible achievements.
Other issues from the State of the City address

* The City’s social package: Criteria for those in need expanded
* Valuation roll process: Objection process almost finalised
* Clean audit: The Auditor-General’s 2009 report
* The City and broadband: Transforming Joburg into a digital city

Dobsonville, Rand and Orlando stadiums had been handed over to FIFA and the OC as training venues. “We are especially proud that we officially launched the redeveloped state-of-the-art Orlando Stadium in Soweto on 23 November 2008.”

Masondo added that Ellis Park Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and first and final matches in the Confederations Cup, was complete and work on the precinct was due for completion by April 2009.

The flagship match venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 World Cup, Soccer City, was 75 percent complete.

“The African calabash design is claiming its place on the Joburg skyline … The Soccer City precinct is 55 percent complete and that includes the promenade which links Soccer City to the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at the Nasrec site.”

Building of accommodation for the media during the World Cup at Nasrec had been handed over to the developers. And 2010 legacy projects were also on track. The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system was being installed, the Soweto Theatre was on the go, the Diepkloof Hostel was being refurbished, soccer fields were being greened, street furniture was being installed and Klipspruit River rehabilitation project was being implemented.

There were challenges to be surmounted, however, on the way to 2010. Masondo said the international financial crisis was leading to price escalations, which was affecting stadium construction. On the other hand, it was proving quite challenging to broker an agreement with the taxi industry concerning transportation in time for the Confederations Cup.

Masondo also outlined the City’s programme regarding the two football events:

* Hosting of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup;
* Hosting the FIFA congresses in 2009 and 2010;
* Hosting 4 000 journalists at the IBC;
* Hosting Football for Hope in Alexandra; and
* Ensuring effective, successful co-ordination and hosting of the best World Cup ever.

Informal settlements
Moving away from preparations for the World Cup, Masondo emphasised that the City’s key programme was the formalisation and regularisation of informal settlements.

“I would like to put it on record that as from today, the formalisation of informal settlements in the city is now formally on our agenda. The matter of informal settlements is very, very important and must occupy our thinking. As we say, this programme can only succeed if we work together.”

The City had developed an approach that sought to address all the 180 identified informal settlements. It aimed to, among other things, help bring a level of security to residents of informal settlement, help fast track regularisation by providing legal recognition to tenants, and help the City achieve part of the overall Millennium Development Goal of eradicating informal settlements by 2014.

Under this approach, the City aimed to have no settlement without legal status by 2014, according to Masondo.

“Residents in hazardous locations will be moved to safe locations and dangerously overcrowded settlements will be de-densified. Settlements that are appropriately located should be formalised or regularised.”

Masondo said 65 settlements would be upgraded, 16 relocated and 23 regularised; 28 settlements not linked to specific projects had been linked to programmes that would formalise housing for the beneficiaries over the long term. The remaining 48 settlements which were not linked to any programme or projects yet would be dealt with in partnership with the department of development planning and urban management.

Still on housing, Masondo said the City had committed to deliver 100 000 housing units by 2011.

“As a key area of focus, the City is mobilising its resources as well as engaging with other stakeholders to ensure that the delivery of 100 000 housing units in this mayoral term is achieved. 50 000 of these units will be developed in mixed income housing projects.”

The rejuvenation of the inner city would also help alleviate housing shortages. Masondo said increased housing delivery for all levels of the housing ladder was required to cater for the housing demand.

“The City seeks to ensure that the poor are catered for in the supply market. To date, the City has been working with the province, social housing institutions, private developers, and other stakeholders to increase the scale of delivery as well as deepen the reach of affordability.”

Redevelopment of hostels was under way, with the City making headway in refurbishing City Deep, Van Beek, Selby, Anthea and Klipspruit hostels. It was also facilitating the delivery of housing projects by the private sector to ensure that gap market housing products were available.

One of the pertinent issues dogging residents was the difficult economic climate internationally. Masondo acknowledged that the year ahead was going to be tough and outlined some of the City’s economic goals.

To keep the damage to its economy to an absolute minimum, the City would focus on contributing towards job creation; facilitate provision of decent employment opportunities and market-led integrated skills development programmes; create an investment-friendly environment to increase foreign direct investment; and facilitate economic growth underpinned by a vibrant small medium and micro enterprises sector.

The key economic development programmes should, among others, include:

* Completion of the rollout of the Joburg Broadband Network Project;
* Provide funding to the value of R30-million from the Jozi Fund;
* 100 percent occupation of Soweto Empowerment Zone;
* Implement the community bank programme; and
* Roll out inner city linear and similar markets.

Despite tough economic and financial conditions, in the last two years Joburg’s revenue collection had soared to R7,47-billion, according to Masondo.

There were key challenges related to revenue collection, including the implementation of the Municipal Rates Policy. Objections raised against the policy were minimal.

“Some of these are being addressed in an ongoing way. They include problems related to sectional titles and addresses. We are confident that many of these will be amicably resolved.”

Programme Phakama
With the implementation of Programme Phakama, Joburg would have a single view of customers in an integrated information technology system, resulting in the speedy resolution of queries. The programme involved the cleansing of the City’s data, which would enable the billing system to be accurate and result in an increase in revenue collected both current and arrears debt.

The City had a mandate to deliver services to all its citizens, but it also had a responsibility to manage wasteful consumption of these resources, the mayor explained.

“The constant outages and load shedding experienced in the past year has had an impact on how the sector and the stakeholders look at energy. The ongoing search for appropriate strategies ranging from our national needs to global warming are more than just topical questions.”

Masondo added that Joburg would continue to deliver free basic water services to the poor and indigent. “This will range from 10 kilolitres of water to 100 kilowatts per hour of electricity as well as the related rebate on sanitation.”

On transport, he identified the BRT as one of the key transport programmes being implemented by the City.

“This is a new, exciting public transport system that will comprise dedicated bus lanes and median stations. Rea Vaya, which means ‘we are moving’ will revolutionise public transport in Johannesburg with features like exclusive right of way lanes in the middle of the road, rapid boarding and alighting, CCTV cameras, pre-boarding fare collection, safe and comfortable enclosed stations, clear route maps, signage and information.”

He said phase 1A of the project included the route from Regina Mundi Church in Soweto to Ellis Park and a circular inner city route that would start operating from 1 June. The second phase, phase 1B, which included a route to Sandton, would start operating in time for the World Cup.

Joburg had been part of the transport upgrading of Ellis Park and Nasrec precinct plans to ensure that all spectators had a safe transport experience during the tournament.

“In addition, we are working on a 2010 transport plan building on the existing park-and-ride strategy for big events. This operational plan will ensure that there is limited congestion during the 2010 World Cup and visitors can move easily to matches, to recreational and hospitality venues and between cities.”

This plan would integrate the operations of BRT, Gautrain and Metrorail and provide additional services if required.

Moving on to health, Masondo said the new Protea Glen Clinic would be completed by June. There would be an increase in the number of the City’s fixed clinics that provided comprehensive antenatal care.

“Programmes and projects aimed at capacitating community members to deal with the impact of HIV and Aids – Jozi Ihlomile – will be implemented. There will also be increased access to comprehensive and integrated HIV and Aids care, management and treatment services, including antiretroviral treatment for the workplace and the community.”

The City had encountered some challenges concerning public safety in 2008. Masondo specifically mentioned the xenophobic attacks, response times to incidents, and the security preparation for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

However, it was not sitting on its laurels but was implementing crime prevention programmes around the city. Masondo said there was ongoing recruitment and training of metro police officers, rolling out of CCTV cameras throughout the city and partnership programmes with the South African Police Service.

He emphasised the need for citizens and the private sector to work together to develop Joburg. “Together we can achieve more,” he said.

“The government is about the wellbeing of citizens and residents. In our country we need to further deepen and enrich our engagements and interaction with people to ensure meaningful accountability and quality delivery of services.”

AUTHOR: Ndaba Dlamini
DATED: 26th February 2009